|“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. |
For we do not know what to pray for as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with
groanings too deep for words. And he who
searches hearts knows what is the mind of the
Spirit, because[a] the Spirit intercedes for
the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that for those who love God all
things work together for good, for those
who are called according to his purpose.”
First, let me say how much I have appreciated hearing from some of the regular readers of my blog asking the question: “Where have you been?” I never intended to leave my readers in the lurch. Here’s what happened.
Long-time readers of this blog have seen me recount my trials with a chronic bone infection in my right foot, which I have struggled with since the spring of 1998. In August of 1998, I had the two outside toes of that foot amputated to attempt to remove the infection. This was unsuccessful.
I was urged to have my right foot and lower leg amputated. But, the surgeons did not agree that this was necessary at that time. However, I was always warned that eventually I would have to have such a surgery.
Over the intervening years, an excellent podiatric surgeon, Dr. Jay C. Moritz, worked with me using various therapies to keep the infection at bay and my right foot as functional as possible. After 19 years of his efforts, along with excellent daily care by my dear wife, the situation finally worsened in early November of 2017.
On November 15th, an excellent orthropaedic surgeon, Dr. Carl Y. Seon, performed a below-the-knee amputation of my right leg and foot. I spent two days in the hospital and then transferred to a rehabilitation hospital for 17 more days of physical and occupational therapy.
Once I arrived at home in early December, I continued receiving physical and occupational therapy several times a week. I eventually learned how to make transfers from my wheelchair and continued to gain strength in my arms.
Those who know me personally know that I have never been physically fit. In fact, my profound obesity—at the worst, I weighed 557 pounds—required me to have an open Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery in 2006. At the time of the amputation in November, I weighed 290 pounds. So, I was woefully unprepared for life as an amputee. I had much physical strength, stamina, and conditioning to gain.
My therapy was progressing nicely when I was stricken with intense abdominal pain on Saturday, January 6, 2018. I was rushed to the hospital by ambulance where it was discovered that I had a blockage of the small intestine. The next day, I underwent three-and-a-half hours of a surgery called Lysis of Adhesions to remove the soft scar tissue causing the intestinal blockage. I spent twelve days in the hospital trying to get my intestines to wake up and begin functioning. I then spent four more weeks at home eating only soft foods.
Of course, while I was hospitalized I lost some of the strength I had gained. In fact, my physical therapist told me that for every day in the hospital I lost five days of strength.
So, I have spent the weeks since my discharge regaining the strength I lost, which I now have done. The next step is to see the surgeon who performed the amputation and receive a prescription to begin the process of getting a temporary prosthesis and, eventually, a permanent prosthesis.
That’s where I’ve been. I don’t know when I will resume my five-times-each-week blog posts. I hope it will be sooner rather than later. For now, I am concentrating on gaining even more strength and making the transition from wheelchair-bound to having a prosthesis. Through all of this experience, God has remained very faithful. The verses at the beginning of this blog post have certainly proven true.
Thank you for your patience, your support, and most of all for your prayers.
As you can see from the above photo, today I had the first fitting of the temporary prosthesis. My most excellent Prosthetist, Joseph H. Carter, Jr., is shown observing my stance prior to making some adjustments to the temporary prosthesis. Joe has significantly aided me through this process.
Next steps: on Friday, April 20, 2018, I will have same-day-surgery at UPMC Hamot Medical Center to straighten, correct, and fuse the joints in the big toe of my left foot. Following this surgery, after some time for healing, I will have the second fitting of the temporary prosthesis and resume physical therapy in order to learn how to walk again.
I continue to remain very thankful for your prayers, as God guides me through this process of recovery.
Thank you for your prayers and kind thoughts. I am happy to report that the surgery today to straighten a hammertoe on my left foot went better than expected. My Podiatric Surgeon, Dr. Jay C. Moritz, seemed very pleased at how well the surgery progressed.
We had to arise at 3:00 a.m. in order to arrive at UPMC Hamot Hospital and Medical Center by 5:15 a.m. After the registration procedure, we went up to the second floor surgery area and were soon taken back to prepare for the surgery.
Dr. Moritz had telephoned me on Thursday to say that the X-ray seemed to indicate that both joints of the big toe were significantly distorted. This would make the surgery more complicated.
Surgery began shortly after 7:15 a.m. and finished in about an hour. Dr. Moritz reported that the surgery proved much simpler than he had thought. Once he cut the tendon, the big toe straightened right out. So, the joints were not distorted as the X-rays had seemed to indicate.
I am now back in my old friend the surgical boot for the next six to eight weeks as the bones of the big toe fuse in their new straightened position. I hope to have another fitting of the temporary prosthesis for my right leg in the days ahead.
Again, thank you for your continued prayers.